The Vagelos Education Centre is a medical and graduate education building at New York’s Columbia University Medical Centre. The structure, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler as executive architect, forms a 100,000-square-foot, 14-storey glass tower that incorporates a range of classrooms and collaboration spaces, as well as a modern simulation centre to reflect how medicine is taught and practiced in the 21st century.
An important part of DS+R’s design is the ‘study cascade’, a network of spaces distributed across oversized landings along an open 14-storey stair — a single, interconnected vertical space that extends from the lobby to the top of the building. These areas open onto south-facing outdoor spaces and terraces. Other aspects of the building include ‘academic neighborhoods’ — groups of classrooms that can be easily be reconfigured — and a 275-seat multi-purpose auditorium.
The building also integrates a range of sustainable features, including locally sourced materials, green roof technologies, and a mechanical system that minimizes energy and water use. Even the façade features ceramic ‘frit’ patterns, baked onto the exterior glazing to diffuse sunlight. The Vagelos Education Centre works toward the goal of minimising CUMC’s carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025.
‘Space matters for structured and informal learning,’ said Elizabeth Diller, Founding Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro. ‘To support Columbia’s progressive medical education program, we designed a building that will nurture collaboration. Its defining feature is the study cascade — a 14-story network of vertically linked spaces in a variety of sizes, both focused and social, private and communal, indoors and out.’
The scheme will open to faculty and students on august 15, 2016 for the start of the fall term.